Skip to main content

Total Suspended Particles (TSP)

TOTAL SUSPENDED PARTICLES (TSP)

Total suspended particles (TSP) is an archaic regulatory measure of the mass concentration of particulate matter (PM) in community air. It was defined by the (unintended) size-selectivity of the inlet to the filter that collected the particles. Unfortunately, the size cut varied with wind speed and direction and was from 20 to 50 µm (microns) in aerodynamic diameter. Under windy conditions the mass tended to be dominated by large wind-blown soil particles of relatively low toxicity.

In 1987 the EPA revised the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM, and changed the PM pollution index to PM10, an index of the PM that can enter the thorax and cause or exacerbate lower respiratory tract diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, and emphysema. This switch to a more health-related index stimulated studies of the associations between ambient air PM and mortality, morbidity, and cardiopulmonary function indices. Some of the studies also used measures of the fine PM concentrations in the air, as indexed by PM2.5 and/or sulfate, and were able to show that annual mortality rates were more closely associated with fine particles than with the larger PM10.

In 1997, in its next revision of the PM NAAQS, the EPA supplemented its regulations on PM10 with new regulations on PM2.5. The cut points are not perfectly sharp for any of these PM size indicators; some particles larger than the cut-point are collected and some particles smaller than the cut point are not retained.

The terms "fine" and "coarse" were originally intended to apply to the two major atmospheric particle distributions which overlap in the size range between 1 and 3 microns. Now, "fine" has been defined by EPA as PM2.5 and "coarse" as PM102.5. However, PM2.5 may contain, in addition to the fine-particle mode, some of the smaller sized "coarse" particles. Conversely, under high relative humidity conditions, the larger particles in the accumulation mode extend into the 1 to 3 micron range.

The chemical complexity of airborne particles requires that the composition and sources of a large number of primary and secondary components be considered. Major components of fine particles are SO4 = H+, NO3, NH4+, organic compounds, trace elements (including metals that volatize at combustion temperatures), elemental carbon, and water. Major sources of these fine mode substances are fossil fuel combustion by electric utilities, industry, and motor vehicles; vegetation burning; and the smelting or other processing of metals.

Background emission sources (geogenic and biogenic) include: (1) windblown dust from erosion and reentrainment; (2) long-range transport of dust (including Sahara desert dust over Florida); (3) sea salt; (4) particles formed from the oxidation of sulfur compounds emitted from oceans and wetlands; and the oxidation of NOx from natural forest fires and lightning; and (5) the oxidation of hydrocarbons (such as terpenes) emitted by vegetation.

Major components of coarse particles are aluminosilicates and other oxides of crustal elements (e.g., Fe, Ca, etc.) in soil dust; fugitive dust from roads, industry, agriculture, construction and demolition; fly ash from combustion of oil and coal; and additional contributions from plant and animal material.

Since fine and coarse particles have distinctly different sources, both natural and anthropogenic, different control strategies are needed.

Morton Lippmann

(see also: Airborne Particles; Ambient Air Quality [Air Pollution]; Environmental Protection Agency; Hazardous Air Pollutants; Inhalable Particles [Sulfates]; National Ambient Air Quality Standards; Smog [Air Pollution] )

Bibliography

Lippmann, M., ed. (2000). Environmental Toxicants, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2001). Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter. EPA 600/p.99/002. Washington, DC: Author.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Total Suspended Particles (TSP)." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Total Suspended Particles (TSP)." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/total-suspended-particles-tsp

"Total Suspended Particles (TSP)." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Retrieved August 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/total-suspended-particles-tsp

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.